Posts Tagged ‘John Steckbeck’

Where was 1909 Carlisle-St. Louis U. game played?

April 12, 2013

Wednesday, I received a question about the location of the Carlisle-St. Louis University game played on November 25, 1909. Was it played in St. Louis or in Cincinnati was the question. A quick scan of Steckbeck’s Fabulous Redmen found it listed as having been played in Cincinnati. From experience, I have learned not to accept Steckbeck as gospel. He’s usually right, but not always. So, I checked with the Spalding’s Guides to see if they could shed any light on the issue. The 1909 Spalding’s Guide listed the game as being scheduled to be played in St. Louis. The 1910 Guide just gave the score.

Next, I searched newspapers for the day before the game, the day of the game, and the day after the game. Every mention of the game that included a location, far from all of them, placed the game in St. Louis. Many newspapers just gave the score or a brief summary. The November 24 Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader article began, “Seventeen redskins left the Carlisle Indian School last evening for the Thanksgiving game at St. Louis….” The November 26 New Orleans Times-Picayune’s coverage of the game was datelined St. Louis as did the Philadelphia Inquirer’s special.

The September 10, 1909 issue, Volume VI, Number 1 of The Carlisle Arrow listed the location of the game with St. Louis to be played in November in St. Louis. The November 26 edition included a sentence about their victory the previous day in St. Louis. The December 3, 1909 The Carlisle Arrow reprinted an article from the December 26, 1909 St. Louis Globe-Democrat that discusses the game played locally (to them) at National League park (home of the St, Louis Cardinals).

All references I found to that game, other than Steckbeck, place the game as being played in St. Louis at a venue larger than the hosting university’s home field. Perhaps he got confused with the 1906 or 1897 seasons when the Indians did play late season games in Cincinnati. He misplaced another game in Cincinnati: the 1905 game with Massillon Athletic Club which was actually played in Cleveland. Why that particular game was played where it was played is a story unto itself.

1909-11-26 Carlisle Arrow St Louis game

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Pop Warner’s Last Game as Carlisle Coach

June 10, 2010

A person interested in writing a biography of Pop Warner contacted me last night with some questions that got me thinking about what is not commonly known about Warner. One thing I uncovered is his last game as head coach of the Carlisle Indians. Steckbeck didn’t cover it, most likely because the school paper didn’t say anything about it.

Warner considered the 1914 season to be a disaster and made it his last. Up through the end of November, Carlisle’s season was to end with the annual Thanksgiving game with Brown University. When writing about the Brown game in the December 4, 1915 issue of The Carlisle Arrow, Assistant Coach John McGillis announced three postseason games: 1. Former Harvard All Stars in Boston, 2. University of Georgia at Atlanta, and 3. University of Alabama at Birmingham. The Boston game, in which Carlisle lost 13-6, had already been played by that time. Then the Indians beat Alabama 20-3. It should be noted that Bama still plays some of its big games in Birmingham rather than on-campus in Tuscaloosa.

The Georgia game was never played or had been confused with Auburn because the Indians played the unscored-up Auburn team four days later. However, nothing was written about it in the Carlisle school newspaper, even after it was played. That was probably because Pop Warner had decided to take the Pitt job and leave. Later, Warner wrote that he had been approached by Pitt officials after the Carlisle-Pitt game on October 17 about the head coaching job and he decided to take it.

After the joint congressional investigation earlier in 1914, Warner’s publicity machine appears to have been shutdown, leaving the writing of articles to the coaches. Already mentally in Pittsburgh, Warner didn’t bother to write up anything about the Auburn game. More on that game next time.

John B. Warren

June 4, 2010

A collector contacted me about two cabinet cards he had purchased from what was purported to be the estate of John B. Warren in an attempt to verify that they were in fact photographs of Carlisle Indian School students. The collector wasn’t familiar with Warren and I only knew that he played on the Carlisle Indian School football team at some point. Identifying the first one was easy. The collector was correct in that it was a photo of Martin Wheelock. He was a star on the teams from 1894 to 1902, serving as captain of the 1899 and 1901 teams. In 1899 and again in 1901, Walter Camp named Martin Wheelock as a tackle on his All America second team. Thus, his face was well known and readily identifiable. This was not the case for Warren.

Steckbeck, the first place to look for information on Carlisle Indian School football, listed a Warren as being a member of the 1899 team. The photo of the 1899 team in Steckbeck’s book identified him as being the person second from right in the middle row, next to Jonas Metoxen. He was not mentioned in the book’s text, so more research was required.

Newspaper coverage of the 1899 games had Warren as playing right guard and tackle in parts of some games. Although not a starter, Warren got some playing time that year. That was probably the extent of John’s varsity play because he graduated in March of 1900 and is included in his class photo in the commencement issue of the school newspaper.

The June 26, 1903 issue of The Red Man and Helper mentioned that “John Warren, class 1900 Carlisle, who has been attending the Minnesota State University is home.” The October 3, 1902 edition reported that his sister, “Grace Warren married a white man and is disappointed.” More research is clearly required.

Hang Time for a Watermelon

May 6, 2010

Today’s mail brought a new article by Jim Sweeney entitled, “Hang Time for a Watermelon: Did Thorpe Really Do It?” Jim first read about Thorpe’s celebrated feat in Bill Crawford’s 2005 biography, All American: the rise and fall of Jim Thorpe. Later, he read Steckbeck’s matter-of-fact recounting that implied superhuman feats were routine for the world’s greatest athlete.

The day was October 21, 1911; the place was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and the opponent was the University of Pittsburgh. In the middle of Carlisle’s greatest season, Thorpe put on an exhibition that is still being talked about 99 years later. The Carlisle Arrow carried several accounts of the game from Pittsburgh newspapers, but the Dispatch told the story in the most detail:

“So fast were the Carlisle players that only twice during the many punting duels engaged in were Pittsburg players able to bring out the ball after it had been booted into their territory. Indeed, on two occasions, Thorpe, who kicked wonderfully well for Car lisle, got down the field under his own bootings, capturing the ball each time. Once he kicked a beautiful long spiral almost into the midst of five Pitt players and got down the field in time to grab the Pigskin, shake off three or four would-be tacklers and dart 20 yards across the line for a touchdown.”

Sweeney doubted that it was humanly possible to do what the reporter said Thorpe did. No one today could punt the ball from deep behind his line, recover from the awkward position a punter is in after kicking the ball, race downfield through his teammates and the opposition, position himself under the ball, and outjump others for it. Jim analyzed each aspect of the alleged feat to determine if it was even possible. When his article is published, I’ll inform you as to where it can be found so you can learn of his conclusions.

Lonestar Played in the NFL

October 19, 2009

Not long ago, I learned that some Carlisle Indians other than the ones on the Oorang Indians also played in the NFL. Chris Willis’s book, The Columbus Panhandles, tells the story of one of the charter members of the NFL (called the American Professional Football Association when it was first formed in 1920). The 1920 Panhandles’ roster included one player that claimed Carlisle Indian School as his alma mater. That was Frank Lone Star. John Steckbeck’s classic about the Carlisle Indian School football teams, Fabulous Redmen, makes no mention of him playing football. An appendix to Willis’s book lists Frank as having played guard and tackle in three games in the 1920 season. A search of newspaper coverage for these games confirms Willis’s data.

Unfortunately, Carlisle’s school records don’t indicate that Frank Lonestar ever played football there—at least not on the varsity squad. Frank Lonestar, Chippewa from Shell Lake, Wisconsin, first arrived at Carlisle in August 1903. After completing the five-year term, he re-enrolled for a three-year term. Just before the end of that term of enrollment, he ran away but re-enrolled in September 1911. He ran away again, returned in March 1912, and left for good in May 1912. While at Carlisle, he learned the printing trade and could have played on the Printers’ shop football team. Shop teams received little press, so it’s not known for sure if he played for them. He kept in touch with the school while working in Cleveland, Ohio. He died at his brother’s home in Shell Lake on October 30, 1915.

Frank’s untimely death made it impossible for him to play for the Columbus Panhandles in 1920. Playing under assumed names was common in the early days of professional football, especially by people whose employment might be jeopardized if their employer learned they were playing football for money.

One possibility is Lone Star Dietz because he was looking for a coaching job at that time. He went by the name William Lone Star at Carlisle. That name is close to Frank Lonestar. Also, Dietz would have likely known that Frank was dead because his death was announced in The Carlisle Arrow. In addition, Frank’s hometown was in the county immediately north of Dietz’s. Tackle was his natural position, too.

In 1920, Lone Star Dietz was 36, an advanced age for an athlete in that era, a factor that would explain him playing only three games. Of course, it may not have been Dietz, but if it wasn’t, who was it?